"It's not going to fit; it's too big." That's what she said.
Nuzzled between a Scion tC and a VW New Beetle Convertible, we walk away after the all-too-familiar chore of parking a utility vehicle in a compact space. Except this time we're smiling instead of cursing.
Not only did this 2010 GMC Terrain, our newest long-term test vehicle, fit into the diminutive space, but in an odd twist of luck, we managed to park our small crossover between two compact cars that manage worse fuel economy than the spacious Terrain.
And that's sort of the point. Not content with another soft, rounded CUV, GMC — the Professional Grade division of GM — has built a CUV with hulking fender flares and a chunky face to stare down the cute-utes from Japan and Korea.
What We Bought
Our 2010 GMC Terrain wears what GMC unromantically describes as the SLT-2 package (well, when you're Professional Grade, probably numerical codes are appropriate). This includes single-zone automatic climate control; Bluetooth cell-phone connection; chrome door handles; programmable powered rear liftgate; memory seats and side mirrors; rear parking assist with sonar and a camera; remote start and an eight-way power leather driver seat.
The only option we put on our Terrain is the Audio and Navigation package, which cost $2,145. Our thinking here is threefold: 1) vehicles with navigation were easy to find on the dealer's lot, which made it a snap to get a negotiated price; 2) vehicles in our fleet that are equipped with navigation systems get driven more miles than vehicles without; 3) getting the nav system allows us to review more features of the vehicle. And, really, a Terrain without navigation wouldn't be significantly different from this one.
This 2010 GMC Terrain sports a 182-horsepower 2.4-liter inline-4 with direct injection and variable valve timing, and this front-wheel-drive example (all-wheel drive is a $1,500 option) carries a six-speed automatic transmission. The MSRP came to $32,440, but if you've read any other long-term introductions before, you're already aware that we didn't pay the MSRP (it's a point of professional pride).
Remember that 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 that we just bought for our long-term fleet? While it was sold before GM stuck a stamp-size GM badge on every car it builds, it still counts as a win for The General and such a purchase got us a $1,000 customer-loyalty discount. So that little coupon brought down the price of our Terrain SLT-2 to $31,133.52 before tax, title and license ($33,683.16 out the door and ready to drive).
We tried to get them to knock off another grand because we have a 2010 Chevy Camaro SS in our garage, but no luck.
Why We Bought It
GMC's newest crossover is built upon the Opel-engineered platform that also lies beneath the Cadillac SRX and Chevrolet Equinox, so underneath the burly bodywork is the technology of GM's latest thinking for utility vehicles. It's the modern crossover, not just compact but also reasonably fuel-efficient. With a four-cylinder engine under the hood, this vehicle practically screams fuel economy, and its EPA-rated 32 mpg on the highway will make it a choice for people seeking utility-style spaciousness and practicality matched with compact-car thriftiness.
In addition, the 2010 GMC Terrain is a substantial leap forward in design, build quality and feature content for GM. At first blush, it is a serious offering that will compete with the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, the standard-bearers of the compact crossover segment.
Once we tested a fully optioned example of a 2010 GMC Terrain SLT AWD, we felt this vehicle's $36,885 price tag (a consequence of its V6 engine and all-wheel-drive system) pushed it far outside of the market segment in which it was supposed to compete, yet we were prepared to acknowledge that the Terrain represents "a solid pick in the five-passenger SUV mix due to its long features list and stylishly functional cabin."
But apart from what we think, you apparently think it's pretty fantastic. The 2010 GMC Terrain was one of Edmunds' most researched vehicles at the tail end of 2009.
The Fuel Economy Future
Here's the deal: 32 mpg from a crossover that looks like a Tonka truck. There's something we like about that and yet also something that rubs us the wrong way. Certainly compromises have been made in the power and transmission calibration for our front-wheel-drive Terrain with its four-cylinder engine, but over the course of 20,000 miles while hauling kids, going on road trips and commuting to work, we wonder if the mpg, cruising range and overall refinement will make us forget the weighty burden for the engine and the uncommunicative electric steering.
We'll find out soon enough. Follow along with the long-term road test blog as a year with the 2010 GMC Terrain begins now.
Current Odometer: 719
Best Fuel Economy: 22.1 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 17.2 mpg
Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 19.7 mpg
Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.